When considering breeding any animal it’s important to do the proper research. This includes learning about the gestation (pregnancy) period of the species in question. This can be especially important when breeding hybrids such as the Savannah cat.
Depending on the generation, the gestation period of a Savannah cat can be anywhere between 63 and 73 days. These variations occur as the Savannah is a hybrid species, being a cross between a domestic cat and a wild Serval.
The difference in gestation periods between different generations means that it can be quite hard to predict how long your Savannah cat will be pregnant for. However, below we will discuss some of the ways you can determine if your Savannah cat is pregnant and how to determine their due date.
How To Know When A Savannah Cat Is Pregnant
The First Signs
Unless you are a professional breeder working closely with a vet, early signs of pregnancy can be difficult to spot in Savannah cats. Felines of all species are very efficient breeders and will often get pregnant immediately after their first encounter with a prospective male. Without the use of veterinary assistance most Savannahs won’t show early signs until about three weeks.
One early sign to look for in your Savannah would be the swelling and darkening of the nipples. This is a common sign in most mammals, even humans! This change in your cat’s nipples is generally referred to as “pinking-up”. Although your Savannah will not start producing milk until after her kittens are born, there can also sometimes be a “milky” discharge. Be careful of possible tenderness.
In the same first three weeks it is also possible that your Savannah could have morning sickness. Just like in human females, not all cats will exhibit this symptom. It is, however, important that if she does start feeling sick or has excessive vomiting to see your vet immediately. Too much vomiting can lead to dehydration and other serious issues.
About a month into her pregnancy you will finally start to see some swelling in the abdomen. This will create a rounded almost balloon-like look to your Savannahs lower belly, and it will feel firm to the touch. If your Savannah cat is healthy and lean it will be easy to see the early signs of swelling, as opposed to larger overweight cats. Over the course of the pregnancy she will gain up to four pounds.
The Importance Of Your Vet
It is important during this time that you are communicating with your vet, ensuring the health and safety of your Savannah’s pregnancy. This will include regular ultrasounds starting around 25-30 days into her gestation. Additionally, your vet may do an X-ray later into the pregnancy (about 40-50 days) to better estimate how large her litter will be, and what to expect.
How To Determine The Due Date Of A Savannah Cat
Typically Around 63 Days
As we touched on earlier, Savannah cats are a hybrid species, which is the result of cross breeding a domestic female with a Serval male. Servals are a non-domesticated species of African feline, specially selected to create the Savannah breed. Serval females generally have a gestation period of 73 days versus a typical domestic female gestation period of 63 days.
Because of the different gestation periods, this has caused many F1 (generation one) kittens to be born prematurely. In some cases, the gestation periods and conflicting genetics can result in absorbed or aborted pregnancy as well. This is most common when producing F1s and reduces in the later generations.
When considering the later generations of Savannahs as they move further away from Servals genetically, their pregnancies become more stable. Typically, F2 generations and onwards are the result of having more domestic genes introduced, which reduces the Serval bloodline. Stud Book Traditional (STB) breeds however are the result of at least three generations of Savannah only parents.
With STB and F3-F5 generations the Serval bloodline is usually between 11-21% and makes for stable breeding. These generations take on the gestation of domestic cats at about 63 days, making due dates easier to predict and things generally safer for the offspring. Ultimately, whatever generation of Savannah cat you are breeding, your vet will be able to predict the due date most accurately.
At home, once you know your Savannah is pregnant you can still estimate the due date using a calendar based on the 63-day gestation period. As you get closer to the expected date your Savannah cat will also start to show signs indicating she is ready. Most commonly about a week prior to giving birth she will begin nesting.
When your Savannah mother starts nesting, she will often find different materials around the house like blankets, shirts, towels, etc. Usually, she will want to nest in a quiet and secluded area away from others (including other pets). You can also help her nest by creating a space for her using a box or even designating a closet just for her.
While she may be more affectionate with her human, she may be more aggressive towards other pets. This is typical of an expecting mother, as she is growing more protective of her coming litter. It’s important once the kittens are born to keep other pets away, until she decides to introduce them. Careful not to handle the kittens too much unless it’s necessary for their wellbeing.
When Can A Savannah Cat Get Pregnant?
Reaching Sexual Maturity
Again, because of the unique genetic characteristics of the Savannah breed there are some variations in sexual maturity, number of young born, and number of litters per year. Typically, the breeder themselves will be in control of how many times their Savannahs reproduce. Overbreeding or forced breeding can be dangerous and lead to health problems for both the mother and her kittens.
Most domestic cats will reach sexual maturity younger than their Serval relatives. Most if not all F1 breeds are the result of a domestic female bred with a male Serval. Female domestic cats will reach sexual maturity between 7-12 months and a female Serval at 18-24 months. Domestic females are mostly used because male Servals are easier to breed with domestics than female Servals.
Most breeders will wait until their females are about nine months before they begin breeding them. When choosing a male Serval or male domestic for later generations breeders will use them as prospective mates as soon as they hit sexual maturity. Males do not have the same potential risks as females when it comes to reproducing and are typically just there to donate their genetic material.
At Least 8 Weeks
Once a female has their first litter of kittens, they can technically become pregnant again in as little as four weeks. Most breeders will wait longer as they want the mothers to care for their kittens for at least eight weeks, if not more. It’s important that the new kittens get all the benefits of nursing from their mother, including building their immune systems.
Usually within one year most cats can have up to three litters. However, breeders will limit their Savannahs to two litters. Additionally, most Savannah cats are retired from breeding after 2-3 years of age for the health of the cat. Producing litters more than twice a year over multiple years can result in miscarriages, genetic defects, and health issues with the reproductive system.
How To Breed Savannah Cats Safely
Ask A Professional
Whether you are planning to become a professional Savannah breeder or are just planning one litter, it is important to always consult a professional. Many new breeders will seek out a mentor who is closely familiar with breeding Savannahs for many years. Additionally, you want to have a good vet who has a background in exotic breeds.
The sources you use to acquire your Savannah and its potential mates is also an important step in making sure you have strong and healthy genes. If you are serious about breeding, you want to make sure your Savannah is coming from a certified breeder. While a cheap price tag may be tempting, it’s important to know any true Savannah will be priced accordingly ($2,000+ depending on generation).
No Need To Worry
You should have little worry about your expecting mother as long as you have been taking great care of her. Healthy Savannahs will need little special care during their pregnancy and will be able to carry out most of their normal activity on their own. It is important however to discourage her from general roughhousing or jumping up on her normal high spaces.
The exact length of a Savannah cat’s pregnancy will vary depending on the generation. However, a good estimate is around 63-73 days of a gestation period, and the exact due date can be roughly determined from this. There are a few things you can do to make sure your Savannah cat has a safe and comfortable pregnancy, but in general they require little to no special care.